Submission on the Proposed National Park at Casuarina Coastal Reserve

Submission to the NT Government on the Proposed National Park at Casuarina Coastal Reserve - Section 14 report consultation 

Keep Top End Coasts Healthy (KTECH), an alliance committed to the protection and sustainable use of the Northern Territory's coastal and marine environments. With a strong community base of 8,000 Territory supporters and the same number following our dedicated efforts on social media, we take pride in our decade-long history of advocating for the health of our coastal backyard and our treasured Top End way of life.

Recognition of Larrakia Ownership and Aspirations

Keep Top End Coasts Healthy (KTECH) recognizes and respects the Larrakia people's traditional ownership of the land and sea country as Casuarina Coastal Reserve and supports their aspirations for its future management and protection.


KTECH supports the designation of Casuarina Coastal Reserve, including Lot 9458, as a National Park. We support the development of a Management Plan that ensures biodiversity conservation that integrates the traditional ecological knowledge of the Larrakia people and aligns with modern conservation practices.

Coastal and Marine natural values

Seagrass meadows near Casuarina Beach are important habitat and form part of the Harbour’s wider seagrass habitat including at Shoal Bay area, Talc Head, Vesteys Beach, Gunn Point, and further inside the Harbour near East Point. Seagrass meadows are important for many species, including dugongs and turtles. There are somewhere between 180 to 200 dugongs in the Darwin region but their highest densities have been observed in seagrasses off Casuarina Beach and Lee Point(1), highlighting the importance of protecting seagrass meadows near Casuarina beach. 

Other habitats, including intertidal sandflats, offshore reefs, estuarine fringes and waterways including Sandy, Rapid and Buffalo creeks, all provide important habitat for marine wildlife.

Coastal and Marine Natural Values are at Risk

The Casuarina Coastal areas is at risk from climate change impacts. For example, sea levels in Darwin Harbour are rising at an average of 8 mm per year(2), much faster than other parts of Australia, greatly threatening turtle nesting sites at places like Casuarina Beach.

Urban and industrial pollution is a risk to Casuarina’s coastal and marine environments. For example, Bacteria spikes in the 2011 wet season forced the closure of the Casuarina, Lee Point and Rapid Creek beaches(3). The main cause of the spikes was the discharges from the Larrakeyah (closed in 2012) and Ludmilla waste treatment plants, the Botanic Gardens drain and Rapid, Vestey’s and Little Mindil tidal creeks. Vesteys Beach, for example, has many stormwater outlets fed by roads in nearby housing, recreational and commercial/industrial areas. The Darwin region’s projected population growth will see pollutant output increase at a similar rate of 2% per year and, according to the Territory’s EPA, a ‘significant increase in pollutant load to the Harbour will occur unless steps are taken to eliminate, reduce, reuse and recycle the wastes that our homes and industry produce’(4).

A significant increase in industrial activity is proposed for Darwin Harbour, including shipping and dredge spoil dumping. In addition, urban housing developments are occurring and are proposed for the Casuarina Coastal catchment. These industrial and urban developments all come with increased risk of pollution impact. Monitoring and management activities are crucial to preserving the natural and cultural values against pollution at the Casuarina Coastal area. The recent Darwin Harbour Integrated Marine Monitoring and Research Program Pressure Monitoring Report has demonstrated that water quality indicators are rapidly deteriorating(5).

Detailed Management Needs for Biodiversity and Shorebird Protection

The Reserve is a crucial habitat for migratory shorebirds, which are significant indicators of coastal ecosystem health. Dr. Amanda Lilleyman points out the lack of structured management and resources dedicated to protecting these species.  KTECH supports the implementation of no-dog zones and enhanced monitoring and management resources to effectively protect these habitats​​. There is the necessity for habitat maintenance, effective human disturbance mitigation, and continuous biodiversity monitoring to ensure the survival of these bird populations​​.

Resource Allocation and Management Focus

Effective conservation is currently hindered by inadequate resourcing. Should Casuarina COastal Reserve be a National Park it will need sufficient funding and staffing to implement and sustain effective management and protection practices, including management of the impact of human activities and urban development on wildlife and habitats​​​​.

Community Engagement and Education

We support Friends of Casuarina Coastal Reserve (FCCR) in highlighting the importance of community involvement in planning and conservation efforts. They propose enhancing educational programs and community partnerships to raise public awareness and promote active participation in the reserve's preservation​​. This involves working closely with the community and Indigenous organizations to foster a deeper understanding and respect for the natural and cultural heritage of the area.


  1. We support the area to be declared a National Park thus bringing management of the Reserve and the new area of land under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, with the land and sea to be managed by Parks and Wildlife in perpetuity, with improved powers to manage the land for its conservation, cultural and recreational values.
  2. No-Dog Zones: Implementing and enforcing no-dog zones to minimize disturbances to wildlife, especially migratory shorebirds.
  3. Fire Management: Developing and implementing a fire management strategy that involves controlled burns and community engagement to reduce the risk of wildfires, which are exacerbated by invasive species and unmanaged recreational use​​.
  4. Invasive Species Control: Intensifying efforts to manage invasive species through community-supported initiatives and expert-led interventions, which are critical for maintaining native biodiversity​​.
  5. Infrastructure Enhancement: Improving infrastructure to support conservation activities such as wildlife monitoring and environmental education, which will involve upgrading visitor facilities to reduce ecological footprints and enhance educational outreach​​​​.
  6. Make the marine and coastal section a 'go slow' area for all motorised boats to improve protection of turtles and dugongs based on the species use of the area and reduce the risk of harm from boat strike. This will also serve to protect seagrass as propellers can slash into the seafloor thus causing physical damage to the crucial root systems of the seagrass and leaves a visible scar. We also recommend that there be no anchoring to protect corals, rocky reef and seagrass from anchor damage. 


KTECH urges the Northern Territory Government to ensure that the proposed National Park designation for the Casuarina Coastal Reserve comes with a well-resourced, effectively managed conservation strategy that respects Larrakia stewardship, protects biodiversity, and addresses the environmental concerns outlined. This approach will protect and enhance this vital coastal ecosystem for future generations, ensuring its ecological integrity and cultural heritage are preserved. Protecting this important area is important for human wellbeing and our unique lifestyle. 


For more information please contact:

Adele Pedder

[email protected]


1.  Inpex Ichthys Project 2018, Maintenance dredging and spoil disposal management plan, Document no.: L060-AHPLN-60010, Revision 1, p.34-35.

2.  Munksgaard N et al. 2019, ‘Environmental challenges in a near-pristine mangrove estuary facing rapid urban and industrial development: Darwin Harbour, Northern Australia’, Regional Studies in Marine Science, Inpex Ichthys Project 2018, p.34.vol. 25, January 2019, 100438

3.  Beach Water Quality Task Force 2012, Sources and pathways of bacteria affecting water quality on Darwin Harbour beaches and waterways, Final report, p.6.

4.  NT Environment Protection Authority 2014, A stormwater strategy for the Darwin Harbour region, August 2014 Version 1.0, NTEPA, Darwin, p.12.

5.  Zizi Averill. NT News. 25 April 2024. <>